Growing up, we would disappear for hours, playing in the neighborhood, our friend’s houses, and off in the woods until dinnertime. Even at my children’s ages, I had a freedom that my kids don’t know these days in our urban neighborhood where the dinner bell doesn’t send the kids running.
Maybe this is why so many young kids have cell phones now, starting as young as elementary school. I get it, it’s for convenience for the parents first and foremost, but kids having cellphones is just not for me… at least not for a few more years. I’m not ready to police text messages, restrict game usage, make sure the kids don’t have open access to the internet, or worry about them losing expensive electronics by allowing them to have their own cellphones.
But this year, I’m giving them the gift of freedom in a way that is age appropriate with the new FiLIP from AT&T.
It may look like a fancy child’s watch, but don’t let that deceive you. Once you know what the Filip does, you will understand why I’m so excited about it and why we feel it is a great buy for anyone with a child aged 5 to 11.
It’s basically a cellphone for kids who are too young for a cellphone, and does everything you want young kids to be able to do while mobile. Check in with parents, receive messages, and make it easy to stay in touch and locate your child in an emergency.
So, just to clarify, the FiLIP allows them to stay safe and stay in touch without giving them access to things they are too young for. Things like the internet, being contacted by people you haven’t specified, downloading apps and games, or giving their friends a way to reach them day and night are some of the many reasons why I want to wait to introduce phones.
The FiLIP is rugged and tough and has numerous features that make it kid friendly – even for the younger crowd. With a simple two button design and a scrolling menu, it makes it easy to tell time, get messages, and call off their contact list without having to teach them the ins and outs of cell phones.
In keeping with the kid-friendly design, there isn't a USB port for charging the FiLIP, which would collect goodness knows what from their daily adventures. Instead it uses a really cool magnetic charger that snaps on to the back of the watch with a click to let you know it made contact.
And, did I mention the kids love it? My daughter was incredibly excited to wear the FiLIP Smart Locator Watch to the recent American Girl event where she could feel like a big kid and call us whenever she found something she liked… even if she was just on the opposite side of the doll display from us.
Speaking of which, my kids are too young to go much of anywhere by themselves, but thanks to the FiLIP I’ve been able to give them small freedoms. Things like walking to the neighbors, staying out to play in the snow with their friend's family, and even playing across the field at the park knowing I could call them at any time and they would know they needed to come running to me has been really cool.
While having the watch doesn't mean they are running off on their own in malls and neighborhoods, just knowing my daughter has it on gives me peace of mind. We have her wear it whenever we're going out and I have felt so much better knowing that if the worst did happen and we got separated, she's still only a phone call away.
When my daughter and I are together, I’m able to ask her to call her dad for me so we can meet up, which is great because I despise being on the phone. My daughter loves this because then she feels like she's being a big help, and I don't have to juggle purses, coats, snacks, phones and kids while trying to coordinate plans at the same time.
My husband’s phone has the FiLIP app so we can communicate in silence and text them funny and sweet messages, remind them to use quiet voices in restaurants in a way that makes them smile, and communicate without ever picking up the phone, which I love. The app is available on iOS and Android and allows you to use GPS along with GSM and Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation to pinpoint your child's location, which means he can find us easily even if we're not able to answer the phone right away. Through the app, you can also set up "safe zones", like the child's preschool, home, or the babysitter's home, and get an automatic notification when the kid arrives or leaves these zones. How cool is that? Checking in without ever having to check in is awesome.
I found that even the gift of small freedom makes for very happy kids. And, as they get older I can add a little more freedom thanks to the FiLIP. At $10 per month for unlimited calls and texting, it's far more affordable than any other device I could get them, and gives far better peace of mind.